Manchester City vs Arsenal
English Premier League 2016/17
18th December, 16:00 pm BST
Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Arsenal travel to Manchester City this Sunday with the aim to put their title challenge back on track. The Gunners suffered only their second loss this season in the Premier League against Everton in mid-week. A 2-1 defeat to the Toffees saw Wenger’s side drop to third in the table.
Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues will provide a stern test for Arsenal ahead of a packed festive schedule. A loss at the Etihad Stadium would result in the Gunners losing further ground on league leaders Chelsea, who have already opened up a six-point gap at the top. On the other hand, points at Etihad will lead the Gunners nicely into the next two games where Arsenal are heavy betting favourites, playing West Brom and Crystal Palace at home.
However, Arsenal will take confidence from the fact that the last time they faced Guardiola’s City, they went on to win 3-2 in a pre-season friendly in Gothenburg earlier this year. To repeat that would be a difficult ask for Wenger’s men at Eastlands, as City have lost only once at home this season. This time around the betting odds still favour the home side, but Arsenal will also take heart from City’s recent troubles.
City have won only five of their last 16 games in all competitions. The last time the Citizens faced a title challenger, they went down 3-1 to Chelsea earlier this month. Arsenal are 3.58 to beat City on Sunday and it’s a good bet, whether as part of your weekend accumulator or on it’s own.
City will also miss İlkay Gündoğan through injury and Sergio Agüero through suspension which should give the Gunners an edge. Arsenal are missing key players in Santi Cazorla, Shkodran Mustafi and Danny Welbeck, while Aaron Ramsey and Per Mertesacker are also expected to miss out.
Arsenal’s defeat to Everton at Goodison Park last time out ended their 14-match unbeaten run. That run saw them emerge as favourites for the title, and a win at City is imperative to maintain their challenge.
This season, Wenger’s men have scored the second most number of goals and conceded the third least number of goals. Alexis Sánchez is the league’s joint top scorer with 12 goals. Sánchez’s form — four goals and three assists in December— coupled with City missing their top scorer Agüero, bodes well for the Gunners.
Furthermore, Arsenal’s recent form against City is nothing short of phenomenal. They haven’t lost to their weekend’s opponents in three years. In the corresponding fixture last season, both teams played out an entertaining 2-2 draw after Leicester City had won the title.
Sánchez’s form, their good recent run against City, and a sense of unease surrounding Guardiola’s men make Arsenal the favourites to win on Sunday.